Saltex, the first of our main two industry shows, is taking place this week Wednesday 31st and 1st November at the NEC Birmingham. I personally always look forward to attending these shows as they are a celebration of our industry and enable us the opportunity to see at first hand the latest developments and catch up with what’s going on in our ever-changing sector.
With over 300 exhibitors there will be something for everyone to see. I firmly believe as practitioners it is our duty to attend and support these shows. The exhibitors commit a lot of time and money to attend these trade shows, therefore we, the end users, should make an effort to attend and support these companies.
At the end of the day these firms invest a lot of money in bringing new machinery, products and resources to fruition, thus enabling us to be more professional and effective in the way we can maintain our facilities.
Not only do we get to see the latest innovations and machinery we can also network with an array of turf professionals. Over the last few years we have also seen a greater emphasis on improving our image and raising the profile of our industry.
The introduction of education seminars, guest speakers and the opportunity to hear first hand experiences from the top grounds professionals is truly inspirational.
We often do not consider the sheer scale and size of what we, as an industry manage. The total land mass is colossal.
- There are over 2,500 golf courses in Britain, covering about 1,500 km2, at least 0.5% of the land area. There are approximately 90 golf courses in England that are designated as SSSI, because apart from the intensively managed trees and greens they have other habitats with high wildlife value.
- There are 418 principal (unitary, upper and second tier) councils in the UK – 27 county councils, 201 district councils, and 125 unitary councils.
- There are over 2000 rugby clubs in the UK
- There are more than 7,000 teams of about 5,300 clubs are the members of the English football league system.
- There are currently 32,113 schools in the UK. Of these, 20,925 are primary schools and 4,168 are secondary schools. There are 2,381 independent schools, 1,256 special schools and 351 pupil referral units. Most of the UK's schools are in England.
- National Trust own and manage over 300 historic buildings
- Over 300,000 cricket players in the UK
- 2000 Green flag awarded parks and openspaces
Just looking at the above figures I found, gives you an indication of how big our industry is. We must have thousands of groundsmen and greenkeepers, managers and volunteers working regularly to maintain these facilities.
It begs the question where are they all when it comes to supporting these shows? At best we regularly see around 9,000 people attend the two main industry shows. To me that seems quite a small fraction of the people who make a living and dedicate themselves to managing all these facilities.
There is no doubt in the last 10 years we have become a more professional industry and with the help of many organisations and sports governing bodies we are continually raising the profile of our wonderful industry.
One of the most successful ways to enhance the reputation and skills of our industry is to reward the endeavour and commitment of grounds professionals and volunteers with appropriate awards. I believe there is no doubt the success of the IOG awards at Saltex is raising the profile of our industry.
This year, celebrating their 10th anniversary, the awards acknowledge the passion, dedication and challenges faced by grounds staff, volunteers and professionals across all levels of sport.
“Once again we have enjoyed a bumper number of nominations for the awards, matching last year’s record-breaking entry,” said IOG chief executive, Geoff Webb. “The quality has really been exceptional – with the judges commenting that some of the applications have been the best they’ve seen in the awards’ history – and a host of new nominees have come to the fore, too.”
He continued, “We should applaud everyone who has reached the shortlist - and those who have been highly commended - in an annual event that attracts national and regional TV, radio, social media and press coverage, and acknowledges the efforts of our armies of grounds people who prepare playing surfaces at all levels of sport.”
Geoff adds, “The awards would not be possible without the generosity of our sponsors, and these companies and organisations have enabled the event to become a landmark occasion for the whole groundscare industry – especially this year as we celebrate a special anniversary.”
The winners will be announced Oscar-style at the IOG Industry Awards dinner by host Mark Saggers from talkSPORT radio at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole, on Wednesday 31 October.
So summing up, I believe we all should make an effort to attend these well run shows and take the opportunity to network and improve our knowledge in what new innovations, machinery and resources we have available to help us do our jobs more efficiently and effectively. At the same time these event help raise the profile of our industry.
I will look forward to meeting you all at this year’s show. TurfPro will be sharing a stand with our sister title Service Dealer – so please pop over to Stand M030 and say hi.